Friday, April 30, 2010

save the arts please


Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to the middle school art classes here in my hometown about studying and working in the arts. I am from a SMALL town on the Oregon Coast where it seems opportunities, income and influence is limited and now with our current economic situation, this area (that often struggles anyway) has been hit hard. Visiting the middle school was a bittersweet experience because I went knowing that this was the last year of the art program- yep budget cuts. But I was grateful for the opportunity to talk about being an artist, show my art and answer questions about pursing an arts education with the hope of inspiring at least one young person to stick with their interest.



I am a TRUE example of a lifetime of education in the arts- both in school and outside of school. Thankfully my parents recognized my interest in art at an early age and nurtured that desire. My longing to learn as much as I could seemed to always be met- I took drawing lessons, I had supplies, there were opportunities to explore different mediums in school, I had good and bad art teachers but art was ALWAYS AN OPTION. By the time I got to high school I knew I wanted to be an artist, I identified myself as an artist and art was my ticket to college, to opportunities and out of a small town. I received a scholarship to college to study art and the rest is really history.



Yesterday after the happiness and high of talking about being an artist wore off- I found myself thinking about what I would have done if art programs would have been taken away from me, if my parents never recognized my passion, if nobody stepped in to help me find my creative voice, if I never had teachers or community members invest their time in supporting me and it made me sad, like really, really sad. While it frustrates me to no end that art seems to be expendable- right now this is the reality that we are living with. I say that it's up to the rest of us to step in where government and education are failing. It is up to us to save the arts and perhaps this means not only speaking out but getting involved, volunteering our time and creative skills, sharing our own stories, being proactive parents and mentors, investing in creativity, stepping outside ourselves and putting the things we believe into action.

13 comments:

  1. Truer words have never been spoken. I was the same as you, lucky to have the choice.

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  2. very well said! i've been keeping my fingers crossed the our public school art programs don't get cut here in north florida. the state of florida is in a major budget crisis and education has been particularly hard it. i agree it's so important for parents and other who can to step and keep that artful creativity going.

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  3. Very well said. I agree 100%. Thank you for your efforts in promoting art and for your post. Pat

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  4. A BIG A-M-E-N! My son went to a small private school where they initiated a mentoring program. When He was assigned one of the mentors, his first words were, "I feel like I've been born again!" He was only about eight at the time. Hugs, Terri xoxo

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  5. I'm an art teacher in NY State and with the extreme budget situations here in NY, the arts are in some serious danger. It was just brought to my attention the the NYS Regents Board is considering changing the rules to allow Elementary Ed teachers to take 12-15 credits in the arts and "annotate" their current certifications to permit teach K-2 art. It's a travesty.

    If anyone wants to learn more...
    http://www.nysata.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=98164

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  6. This is so true. Thank you for vocalizing it in an understandable and forthright way. I did not grow up in the arts but it helps me breathe. I will encourage where I can.

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  7. I didn't discover that I have artistic inclinations until I was in my 30s. I have found myself envying people who have a strong arts education -- it is such a shame that so many folks think that our children don't need it! My son gets art once a week this year (it was every other week at his last school), and he simply adores it. I doubt he will pursue an artistic career, but I know that art is teaching him things that he can't learn anywhere else.

    Whenever people tell me that they can't make art or aren't talented, I always tell them that EVERYONE is creative, and that if they want to, they can learn. If we take some of the myths away, it becomes much easier for people to see the value of art education for all.

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  8. You know it really is sad that that is what is being cut!! The creative outlet is really important, it's not a fluff class.

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  9. Yes!!! Art is a form of communication. Art heals. I so wish the government would get that! Right now I am organizing a fundraising event for Free Arts Minnesota...they bring the healing power of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children. When I learned about them and their mission, I was on board. We have to keep art alive!!

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  10. I am an art teacher in NC and fortunately so far our art programs have not been cut. We are often on pins and needles when talk of cutting programs is addressed though. I thought about what you said regarding where you would be without art education and it is SO true. I know that I decided to become an artist and teacher in the 8th grade when I was influenced by my teacher. I know that one of my artist friends here was influenced by her high school teacher. Because of her teacher and her talent she was able to attend the School of the Arts here. I would like to challenge those that propose cuts to imagine what their world would look like without the arts....no music, no theater, no painting,no film, no dance...no sensitivity to that which is beautiful.

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  11. sooo true and so sad. My father and mother both encouraged me to be creative and for that I thank them. To think that many children may not have an exposure to the arts and art making is a tragedy. I teach a free afterschool art program and I'm able to see the kids just blossom as they are engaged in creative activity!

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  12. So true! And please let's hear it for the parents, teachers and mentors who encourage kids to pursue careers in the arts! I was always artsy but pushed into a more 'lucrative' education track. I had no idea there were art schools out there for higher education! I now encourage my children to pursue paths in whatever makes them HAPPY and feel fulfilled.

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  13. It breaks my heart to know that there are children out there that do not have access to any art programs. Art is a healer! It helps to expand your thinking! Everyone should have the opportunity to experience art! I run a free afterschool art program for exactly this reason. While my school division still has Art as a course, every year it gets smaller. I hope my program helps my students experience that much more :)

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